Poppy Day 2000

Bonamargie Friary - Ballycastle Seamen from Viknor and Racoon

 This small piece of information came about after seeing these First World War graves in Bonamargie Friary, the freshly placed  poppy wreaths made me wonder about the circumstances which brought these young seamen to this final resting place in a small corner of North Antrim. The following was collated from research on the internet and information placed there by David Parsons and also from


  H.M.S. Racoon was a Beagle class, three funnelled coal burning destroyer displacing some 950 tons - she was built and launched from the Cammell Laird shipyard in 1910.  Armaments included - one 4" Primary and three 12 lb secondary guns plus  two 18" centreline torpedo tubes -  she carried four torpedoes. Her official crew compliment was 96 but at the time of her loss she was carrying  91 seamen under the command of Lt. George Napier. During the early hours of January 9th, 1918  she was en route from Liverpool to Lough Swilly to take up anti-submarine and convoy duties in the Northern Approaches,  in heavy sea conditions and while experiencing  snow blizzards she struck rocks at the Garvan Isles and sank with the loss of all hands. A subsequent enquiry was held.


Bonamargie Friary you will find the graves of  the following seamen from HMS Racoon  - W. H. McKay, aged 24, RN SS/117528, a  1st class stoker.  F. Harvey, Able Seaman, RN J/21488.  E. F. Walter, Mechanic,  RN 282791. There is also one unknown seaman's grave from HMS Racoon. In Ballintoy Churchyard are the graves of - W. Griffin,  RN 347735, ship's cook.  F.C. Sarel, RN K/44331, 2nd class stoker and F.E. Green RN J/64519  Ordinary Seaman.


 H.M.S. Viknor was an 5386 ton armed merchant cruiser of the 10th Cruiser Squadron, originally a Blue Star Line vessel called the 'Viking',  she was requisitioned and renamed by the Royal Navy. She was under the Command of  Commander E. O. Ballantyne  and  had a crew compliment of 22 officers and 273 ratings  - these were made up of  Royal Navy Reserves,  25  of whom came from the Newfoundland Division of the Royal Navy Reserves. On January 13th, 1915 while on active patrol duty in heavy seas off Tory Island she struck a German mine and sank with the loss of all hands. In Bonamargie Friary you will find the grave of  Private. J. Griffin, PO 7084,  RMLI. There are also  four unknown graves of seamen from H.M.S.'Viknor' . In Ballintoy Churchyard you'll find the grave of of E.R. Hewett, RN J/27300, 1st Class Boy.


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